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Chem analysis to start at best site for low-gravity industry

  1. Nov 21, 2015 #1

    marcus

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    Dawn spacecraft is equipped for gamma and neutron spectroscopy to analyze the chemical make-up of Ceres surface material down to a depth of 1 meter.
    To do this it must first descend to a low altitude--the target is 375 km. It has already descended to within 600 km and it seems likely to reach its goal.

    The dwarf planet has abundant water ice in its outer mantel mixed with rock. This is clear from its measured density of 2 g/cc and from its geometry which shows a degree of layered differentiation.

    Nitrogen in the form of ammonia-bearing minerals was recently reported at a AAS conference (Division for Planetary Sciences). That's a key element (in manufacturing as well as in biology).

    More pieces of the puzzle should be falling into place as soon as the descent to final altitude is complete.
     
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  3. Nov 21, 2015 #2

    marcus

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    This is basically how the gamma and neutron spectroscopy works
    . gamma.jpg
    High energy (cosmic ray) proton busts a nucleus producing fast neutrons which
    (1) activate atoms in the soil--which then identify themselves when they emit gamma rays of characteristic frequencies.
    (2) can also either escape immediately or can be moderated (slowed) by successive collisions with hydrogen nuclei. Comparing the ratio of slowed neutrons to fast ones will indicate the abundance of hydrogen (hence water ice) in the soil.
     
  4. Nov 21, 2015 #3

    marcus

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    I expect that humans will eventually decide to establish chemical and material manufacturing in a low-gravity environment. From which it will be less costly and risky to launch their goods into space get their manufactures delivered where these are needed. More economical in other words.

    AFAICS In the inner Solar System, Ceres is the best business location (for raw materials and manufacturing).
    Partly because of the low gravity (3% of Earth).
    Partly because a subsurface site in icy material provides atmosphere containment and shielding.
    Partly because surrounding icy material affords a heat sink for power plant cooling, making power generation more economical.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
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